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Music Analysis and the Challenges Presented by Music Production

Matthew Hill

College of Music, Visual Arts and Theatre

James Cook University

Townsville Qld Australia

Abstract

The advent of recording technology has presented challenges to traditional musical analytical methodologies. Numerous analytical methods have been developed in order to address the inadequacies of score-based methods. Such methods have illuminated various aspects surrounding the reception of musical works in particular genres. Musicologists working in the fields of electronic, electroacoustic, rock and electronic dance music have addressed such aspects such as timbre, spatialisation, meaning, and affect. To varying degrees, the recording plays a central role as the object of analysis, however existing methodologies rarely focus on the processes involved in the production of the recording, i.e., the level of creation. Thus a key question emerges; what has been the impact of recording technology on the creative process, from the perspectives of the performer, composer, producer and engineer?

This paper is an account of practice-based research currently being conducted at James Cook University (QLD, Australia) as part of a doctoral study designed to address this question. As a musician and producer himself, the researcher seeks to extend Middleton’s (2000) recommendation of the participant analyst, to that of a participant/analyst/creator. The deficiencies of existing analytical methodologies will be discussed with particular reference to emergent technologies, music creation, recording practice, and interdisciplinary theoretical issues. This paper will discuss the application of a new analytical method to various historical and emergent musical genres and discuss the potential for this knowledge to be applied in the fields of music technology, education and musicology, and examines the nature and authority of such knowledge.
 

Introduction


The utilisation of recording technology as a musical medium has presented challenges to traditional musical analytical methodologies. Numerous analytical schemas have been developed in order to address the inadequacies of score-based analysis. However existing methodologies rarely focus at the level of creation; i.e., on the processes involved in the production of the recording. Thus a key question emerges; what has been the impact of recording technology on the creative process itself, from the perspectives of performers, composers, producers and engineers? This paper is an account of practice-based research currently being conducted at James Cook University (QLD, Australia) as part of a doctoral study designed to address this question. The paper examines the impact of new technologies on music creation in two contrasting musical genres, electronic music and electronic dance music.

Music Creation


The creation of a recorded musical work is the result of a complex interplay of factors influencing the actions and decision-making processes of the individuals involved. These factors range from the particular techniques surrounding music making (e.g., music theory, technical performance issues, or the limits/potential of equipment) to broad social, economic and cultural contexts which impact in some way on the nature of such creations. Figure 1 illustrates the shaping factors, inputs, processes, and outcomes, involved in the creation of a musical work. The emphasis of particular shaping factors (top left of Figure 1) will vary according to a given work and is connected to musical style. While the shaping factors determine the process by which a musical work is created, it is the organization of particular inputs (top right of Figure 1) which provide the primary surface of a completed musical work. As with the shaping factors, the emphasis of particular inputs will vary according to a given work and is also connected to musical style. The various processes listed are not discrete categories and there is often fluidity between, for example, a bottom up or top down approach.
 

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Figure 1. The Creation of a Musical Work (Adapted from Davis, 1995)
Figure 1 provides a useful starting point for the examination of the impact of recording technologies on music creation. If the various shaping factors, inputs, processes given in Figure 1 could be identified for a range of recorded works, it follows that an accurate picture of the impact of recording technologies on music creation would begin to emerge. While this type of examination is the task of music analysis, to what extent do extant music analysis practices provide insight into the range factors listed in Figure 1? More specifically, to what extent do extant analytical methods address the particular concerns of music production?

Issues in Music Analysis


In the context of the above questions, a survey of current literature reveals the following issues:
•    The lack of specific and/or explicit connection between musical analysis and musical creation;
•    The tendency of musical analysis practice to become an end in itself, unrelated to other musical pursuits (e.g., production, performance, composition, education);
•    The inadequacy of established analytical methods to deal with the processes and outputs of recording technologies; and,
•    Dispute as to the appropriate focus for analysis – musical work as an autonomous object and/or musical work within a broader context (e.g., psychological, sociological, cultural setting).
These issues are expanded in the following section before presentation of an analytical framework for the current research.

Musical analysis asks the question “How does it work?”(Bent, 1987, p.5), rather than ‘How was it made?’  In ascertaining the answer to the first question a composer acquires knowledge that may be applied to musical creations and in this way, musical analysis can input to the creation of a new musical work. According to Cook (1987) and Smalley (1997), this is the main link between extant analytic tools and composition. For Cook (1987) the practice of analysis develops an intuitive knowledge of music that cannot be subject to intellectual scrutiny. Smalley (1997) suggests, “once the composer becomes conscious of concepts and words to diagnose and describe, the compositional thinking can be influenced” (Smalley, 1997, p.107).

The notion that analysis influences composition is straightforward enough. However, the question as to whether analysis has the power to identify the compositional methodologies utilized in a particular work has only recently been addressed. From the small number of examples available in the extant research, two directions can be discerned. Firstly, research into the cognitive processes of composers (e.g., Brown, 1997; Giomi & Ligabue, 1998) and secondly, discussion of the influence of, and relationship between, cultural context and specific musical creations (e.g., Tagg, 2000; Goodheart, 2001). Taken together, these approaches provide a platform for links to be made between music analysis and creation.

The second issue raised above relates to the question ‘What is the purpose of musical analysis?’ To what extent does music analysis constitute a self-contained field of study or is it bound to other musical activities? Cook’s (1987) observes that:

Personally I dislike the tendency for analysis to turn into a quasi scientific discipline in its own right, essentially independent of the practical concerns of musical performance, composition or education.  Indeed I do not believe that analysis stands up to close examination when viewed in this way: it simply doesn’t have a sufficiently sound theoretical basis. (Cook, 1987, p.3)

In other words, analysis is meaningless unless considered in relation to the ways that the insights gained can be applied to other musical endeavours. In the context of this paper, ideally the purpose of analysis should provide insight into the compositional methodology(ies) utilised in the creation of recorded musical works. However, existing practices of musical analysis are not necessarily compatible with the processes and outputs of the various technologies involved in record production, the third issue identified above.

The majority of current analytical practices examine tonal and atonal music of the Western art music tradition (Bent, 1987; Cook, 1987) and focus on pitch elements in a written score. On the other hand, recorded works afford analysis of a range of elements beyond those usually rendered in traditional scores. For example, in many recorded works, timbre and spatialisation are crucial. Numerous genre specific analytical techniques have been developed in order to address these issues. In the fields of electronic and electroacoustic music - Smalley (1997), Giomi and Ligabue (1998), Couprie (2004); in rock - Moore (1993), Brown (1997), Hubbs (2000), Middleton (2000), Tagg (2000); in jazz – Rinzler (1988), Potter (1990), Goodheart (2001); and in electronic dance music - Hawkins (2003). The selected examples provide a range of tools that can be utilized in the analysis of recorded works. For example Moore (1993) uses the term sound box to refer to the virtual textual space of recordings with axes corresponding to register, perceived depth and stereo image. Although developed for rock styles, Moore’s (1993) sound box provides a useful model for the examination of these aspects of all recordings, regardless of style.

The lack of a musical score featuring standard pitch notation leads, in many recorded works, to the final issue raised above; the appropriate site for musical analysis. There are basically two approaches considered in the analytical methods surveyed in the current research. Firstly, the subject of analysis could be some form of autonomous artwork. This could be a written score (as in most traditional analytical practices), a graphic score or representation (e.g., Couprie, 2004; Smalley, 1997) or a recording of the work (e.g., Stephenson, 2002).  Secondly, the subject of analysis could be extended to include, for example the social and cultural context in which the work is received (e.g., Butterfield, 2002; Hawkins, 2003; Middleton, 2000).

The rationale for choosing an appropriate site for analysis derives from particular philosophical notions of what constitutes music. It is beyond the scope of this paper to delve too deeply into issues of music philosophy, although the following general comments can be made. Traditional analytical methods (such as those developed by Schenker, 1935 and Forte, 1973) are characterized by formalism and tend to examine some sort of autonomous artwork. On the other hand, analytical methods developed for pop/rock (for example, Hubbs, 2000; Middleton, 2000; Tagg, 2000) derive from a range of psychological, semiological, sociological and hermeneutic approaches and consider a range of factors involved in the production and reception of a work.

Development of Analytical Methodology for the Current Research


Existing analytical methodologies, focusing on electronic, electroacoustic, electronic dance music, jazz, and popular music provide useful analytical tools relevant to the current research and the analytical method outlined below includes where appropriate, reference to the key authors. Of particular interest is Middleton’s (2000) notion of a participant analyst who

… can double as ‘informant’ from within the culture-laying out the gestures through participation- and as ‘critical outsider’, cross-checking the information against schemas drawing on a wider body of musical data. (Middleton, 2000:108)

Middleton’s (2000) analytical model encourages analysis of musical works on a range of levels from meaning to affect, or to use Middleton’s terminology, “gesture, connotation, argument” (Middleton, 2000:120). However, Middleton (2000) does not make explicit links between music analysis and music creation which is the key focus of this research. The question thus is whether extending the role of Middleton’s participant analyst beyond that of the musicological domain to encompass a participant analyst/creator, might facilitate a more comprehensive investigation into the compositional/musical creation domain?

Scope of Research


Extending Middleton’s (2000) notion of the participant analyst to that of the participant analyst/creator, the range of compositional and improvisation practices examined in this research is derived from the nature of the researcher’s own artistic practice. A wide range of genres informs this researcher’s personal practice and hence the analysis of numerous, and stylistically varied, works is required. This, in combination with the time constraints for doctoral research, necessitates a somewhat broad-brush approach to particular analyses.

Methodology


The methodology developed for this research involves the following stages:
1.    The selection of key works in selected genres.
2.    The analysis of key works.
3.    The development of new creative works.
In order to maintain focus on analysis, the following discussion is limited to the first two stages only. Works selected for analysis must satisfy the following criteria: (1) High level of personal interest, (2) Incorporatation of new technologies, (3) Accessibility, (4) High profile in the literature, (5) Representative of a pivotal development in the genre. Initially an analysis of ten key works in six selected genres is to be undertaken. Genres studied to date include electronic, and electronic dance music. Further research will be undertaken in the fields of electroacoustic music, jazz, Western art music and rock.

The analytical methodology for the research has been developed through the selection and adaptation of various analytical tools encountered in the extant literature. Solomon’s (2002) Music Parametric Analysis, provided a useful template for encompassing a range of various musical parameters in a concise text based form. However, given its emphasis on tonal works, Solomon’s template requires expansion in order to address the issues raised above. Table 1 presents the analysis template developed for this research.

Table 1: Analysis template    

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The first section of the template addresses the shaping factors in the creation of a musical work. According to numerous authors (e.g., Ferrara 1984, Brown 1997, Tagg 2000, Hubbs 2000), the consideration of a broad range of extramusical parameters is necessary for any comprehensive analysis and the current research incorporates this principle. The second section of the template addresses the inputs of a particular work and includes a range of traditional elements (e.g., pulse, metre, dynamics, pitch selection, texture, etc.,) in addition to parameters more suited to electronic and electroacoustic works such as sound objects, spatial elements, and programmatic association. The work of authors such as Ferrara (1984), Wishart (1996), Smalley (1997), Middleton (2000) and Fast (2000) provide useful models for the text-based descriptions of such elements. The experiential column represents the researcher’s own observations whereas the literature column includes descriptions that have been documented by others, including the creators of the works themselves. Additional analytical tools can be used to augment the analysis table where necessary. For example, graphic representations of sound objects, such as those developed by Couprie (2004) and Hirst (2005) provide a helpful supplement to the analysis template. However, given the parameters of different musical styles that require attention, it is not intended that such graphic representations be presented for every work.

The completed analyses enable comparisons to be made between works through presentation, in an element-specific manner, of aspects of the compositional methodologies employed in the creation of those works. In order to complete the link between analysis and creation, new works are developed by the researcher in the following manner: Having completed the analysis template for each key work, a summary template is completed in order to highlight, firstly, the particular resonances occurring at the shaping factors level, and secondly, the elements of particular interest to the researcher at the input level (see Table 1). Thus a storehouse of compositional methodologies is created from which new works can be developed.

Analysis of electronic and electronic dance music works


To date analysis of works in electronic and electronic dance music (EDM) genres have been completed. The following provides an overview of the results and presents issues that have emerged. Tables 2 and 3 list the works selected for analysis in the electronic and EDM genres.
 
 
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Table 2: Key works selected in electronic genre
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Table 3: Key works selected in electronic dance music genre

Two completed analyses are included in Appendix A, however, aspects of each are discussed separately in order to highlight key points and make comparisons between genres. In most of the works in both genres, roles such as musician, composer, engineer and producer are blurred. The individuals or collaborators involved move freely between roles, and utilize the studio as a creative tool. However, distinctions emerge when considering the creative processes in each genre. In many of the electronic works the processes are of a top down nature with the design of a formal structure of the work preceding the realization. In contrast, where discussed, the EDM works often resulted from a bottom up approach, where factors such as play are an integral part of the creative process. For example, Berman (1999) cites Tom Rowlands (from Chemical Brothers) account of their process: “We kind of play with sounds until tunes arrive” (Berman, 1999).

A comparison of the Literature column for each work illustrates another general distinction between the two genres. In the electronic works, composers provide detailed commentary of processes undertaken. This is to be expected as institutions, most likely requiring such as part of an acquittal procedure, commission most of the works selected in this genre. However, in EDM works, such commentary is rare. For EDM works, the majority of literature is of a journalistic nature and only in specialist industry magazines (such as Sound on Sound, or Audio Technology) do interviews with artists, engineers or producers address specific studio processes. Thus, where no indication of the particular equipment (e.g., for sound sources and effects) is given in the literature, a combination of practical experience and comparison with other works is necessary. This is one area where producers and engineers have much to offer the field of music analysis, either as researchers themselves or as a key source of information for ethnographic type research.

Further distinctions emerge when comparing the discourse surrounding each genre. For example, Reynolds (1999) discusses the experience of the EDM sub-genre drum ‘n’ bass in a club setting as follows:

At massive volume, knowledge is visceral, something your body understands as it’s seduced and ensnared by the paradoxes of the music: the way the breaks combine rollin’ flow and disruptive instability, thereby instilling a contradictory mix of nonchalance and vigilance; the way the bass is at once wombing and menacing…Inside the bass, you feel safe, and you feel dangerous. Like cruising in a car with a booming system, you’re sealed by surround sound while marauding through urban space (Reynolds 1999:349).

In the following, Harvey (1999) provides details of the programmatic association incorporated into his work in the electronic genre,  “Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco” (1980).

The bell counts time (each section has a differently pitched bell stroke at its beginning): it is itself a ‘dead’ sound for all its richness of sonority: the boy represents the living element. The bell surrounds the audience; they are, as it were, inside it: the boy ‘flies’ around like a free spirit (Harvey, Liner notes, 1999).

In the above, Reynolds’ account is highly personal and experiential whereas Harvey discusses both the audience and the sounds from a formalizing distance. Although Reynolds is writing as a listener and Harvey as a music maker, the above examples illustrate the distinction between intimate and distant perspectives that characterizes the literature in each genre, a difference perhaps symptomatic of a Western art music/popular music divide. This division has been discussed at length elsewhere (e.g. Middleton 1990, Covach 1999). Suffice to say that highlighting and juxtaposing such aspects serves to broaden an overall musicological frame.

The reliance on analogy to describe experiential aspects of the music exemplified in both quotations above, points to the need for an interdisciplinary approach to analysis. Whilst such language, either formal or personal, does acknowledge important aspects of music reception such as meaning and affect, a wider theoretical framework could provide, for example, a connection to physiological responses. In discussing the importance of somatic response to particular frequency areas, Middleton (2000) does provide a useful model in this regard. However, in order to test the validity of observations such as Middleton’s (2000) (e.g. connecting 16th note cymbal patterns with muscular vibration) a music researcher would most likely need to enlist the expertise of a medical researcher.

Reflections and Directions


Having completed analyses in two genres, some observations as to the success of the analytical method can be made. Firstly, as noted above, in many cases it has proved useful to supplement the text descriptions with other presentation tools such as conventional notation when dealing with traditional pitch/rhythm elements or graphic form diagrams. The latter can be presented in a manner that reflects the standard computer based sequencers with tracks listed on vertical axis and a timeline of events created along the horizontal axis. Recreating a work in this manner creates a visual representation similar to that used to create the work, thus reinforcing the analyst/creator model. Furthermore, such a figure could easily be augmented to include detailed descriptions of individual sound objects and perhaps even incorporate effects settings, panning, inserts, auxiliary sends, etc., in order to replicate the computer interface producing the work. For example, this researcher could envisage the recreation of a Pro Tools session as a useful presentation of analyses.

The analytical method presented here seeks to foreground elements of production neglected by traditional analytical methodologies. By seeking to describe elements such as timbre, spatialisation and programmatic association, the creative work of record production can be both recognized and analyzed. In the context of the current research, this knowledge is intended to examine the impact of recording technologies on music creation and to inform the creation of new works. The analytical method is intended to be applicable to all music and an assessment of its suitability for application in the fields of music education and music technology will be made on completion of the research. It is expected that the research will also have implications in fields such as sociology and science and technology in society, providing a musicological and music creator’s perspective.

One issue in relation to the analytical method under investigation, is its reliance on the presence of material in the literature to provide supplementary and sometimes contradictory information re the various parameters. In this way, only works that have a high profile in the literature are suitable and thus the method is reinforcing the canonization of a limited number of so called great works. A possible solution to this would be to interview the creators of works (after the experiential column of the analysis is completed) and for this to be included in the literature column, however, the scope and timeframe of this study precludes such an approach.

A second issue emerging from the analyses to date is the need to probe collaborative processes. The relationships that develop within a studio environment between musicians, engineers and producers warrant detailed study in order to establish a thorough picture of the nature of music creation. Such a study would require grounding in both psychological and sociological methodologies that are perhaps beyond the scope of one researcher and require an interdisciplinary approach from a research team.
 

References

Allen, J. Anthony. (2005) “Jonathan Harvey, Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco: An Analytical Method for Timbre Analysis and Notation”. Program Book, Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art, Feb 16-20 - 2005. University of Minnesota. Available at www.janthonyallen.com/compositions/media/Harvey.pdf [Accessed 1 June, 2005].
Bent, Ian. (1987) Analysis. MacMillan Press, London.
Berman, Stuart (1999). “Chemical Brothers: Going for Accessible Cacophony” in Chart Attack. Available at http://www.chartattack.com/features/99/chembro/2.html [accessed July 26 2005].
Brown, Matthew. (1997) “ “Little Wing”: A Study in Musical Cognition” in Covach, John and Boone, Graeme M. (Eds.) Understanding Rock: Essays in Musical Analysis. Oxford University Press, New York.
Butterfield, Matthew. (2002) “Music Analysis and the Social Life of Jazz Recordings” in Current Musicology Spring 2001-2002:324-352.
Cook, Nicholas. (1987) A Guide to Musical Analysis. J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd, London.
Covach, John. (1999) “Popular Music, Unpopular Musicology” in Cook, Nicholas and Everist, Mark (Eds) Rethinking Music. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Couprie, Pierre. (2004) “Graphical representation: and analytical and publication tool for electroacoustic music” in Organised Sound 9(1):109-113.
Davis, Diana. (1995) “The Crucible of Professional Practice in Music Performance: Outcomes and Pathways”. Unpublished model.
Fast, Susan. (2000). “Music, Contexts, and Meaning in U2” in Everett, Walter (ed) Expression in Pop-Rock Music. Garland, New York.
Ferrara, Lawrence. (1984). “Phenomenology as a Tool for Musical Analysis” in Musical Quarterly 1xx pp355-373.
Forte, Allen (1973) The Structure of Atonal Music. Yale University Press, New Haven.
Giomi, Francesco and Ligabue, Marco. (1998) “Modalities of signification in contemporary music: A proposal for an analytical system”. Contemporary Music Review Vol.17: Part 2:47-58.
Goodheart, Matthew. (2001) “The ‘Giant Steps’ Fragment”. Perspectives of New Music 39:2:63-95.
Harvey, Jonathan. (1981) “Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco: A Realization at IRCAM”. Computer Music Journal, 5:4, Winter 1981:22-24.
Harvey, Jonathan. (1999). Tombeau de Messiaen [compact disc]. Sargasso, London.
Hawkins, Stan. (2003) “Feel the beat come down: house music as rhetoric” in Moore, Allan (ed.) Analyzing Popular Music. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Hirst, D. (2005). “Developing an Interactive Study Score for the Analysis of Electro-acoustic Music” in Generate and Test: Proceedings of the Australasian Computer Music Conference 2005. Brisbane, Queensland University of Technology.
Hubbs, Nadine. (2000) “The Imagination of Pop-Rock Criticism” in Everett, Walter (ed.) Expression in Pop-Rock Music (3-29). Garland, New York.
Middleton, Richard. (2000) “Popular Music Analysis and Musicology: Bridging the Gap” in Middleton, Richard (ed) Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music (104-121). Oxford University Press. Oxford.
Moore, Allan F. (1993) Rock: The Primary Text. Open University Press, Buckingham.
Neate, Patrick. (1997). “Roni Size” Interview in MixMag. November 1997. Available at http://www.techno.de/mixmag/97.11/RoniSize.a.html [Accessed 27 June 2005].
Potter, Gary. (1990) “Analyzing Improvised Jazz”. College Music Symposium 30: 64-74 n1.
Reynolds, Simon (1999) Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture.  Routledge, New York.
Rinzler, Paul. (1988) “Preliminary Thoughts on Analyzing Musical Interaction Among Jazz Performers”. Annual Review of Jazz Studies 4: 153-60.
Schenker, Heinrich (1935) Free Composition. Longman, New York. (Translated and edited by Ernst Oster).
Sharp, Chris. (2000). “Jungle: Modern States of Mind” in Shapiro, Peter. (Ed.) Modulations - A History of Electronic Music: Throbbing Words on Sound pp 130-155. Caipirinha Productions, New York.
Smalley, Dennis. (1997) “Spectromorphology: explaining sound-shapes” in Organised Sound 2(2):107-26.
Solomon, Larry. (2002) Music Parametric Analysis. Available at http://music.theory.home.att.net/paramet.htm  [accessed April 28 2004].
Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock. Yale University Press, New Haven.
Tagg, Phillip. (2000) “Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method, and Practice” in Middleton, Richard. (ed). Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music (71-103). Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Thurston, C. (1998) “Roni Size: We Reprazent”. In Music Monitor. April 1998 available at http://www.penduluminc.com/MM/April/ronisize.html [Accessed 4 July 2005].
Wishart, Trevor. (1996) On Sonic Art. Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam.

 

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Music Analysis and the Challenges Presented by Music Production

Matthew Hill

College of Music, Visual Arts and Theatre

James Cook University

Townsville Qld Australia

Abstract

The advent of recording technology has presented challenges to traditional musical analytical methodologies. Numerous analytical methods have been developed in order to address the inadequacies of score-based methods. Such methods have illuminated various aspects surrounding the reception of musical works in particular genres. Musicologists working in the fields of electronic, electroacoustic, rock and electronic dance music have addressed such aspects such as timbre, spatialisation, meaning, and affect. To varying degrees, the recording plays a central role as the object of analysis, however existing methodologies rarely focus on the processes involved in the production of the recording, i.e., the level of creation. Thus a key question emerges; what has been the impact of recording technology on the creative process, from the perspectives of the performer, composer, producer and engineer?

This paper is an account of practice-based research currently being conducted at James Cook University (QLD, Australia) as part of a doctoral study designed to address this question. As a musician and producer himself, the researcher seeks to extend Middleton’s (2000) recommendation of the participant analyst, to that of a participant/analyst/creator. The deficiencies of existing analytical methodologies will be discussed with particular reference to emergent technologies, music creation, recording practice, and interdisciplinary theoretical issues. This paper will discuss the application of a new analytical method to various historical and emergent musical genres and discuss the potential for this knowledge to be applied in the fields of music technology, education and musicology, and examines the nature and authority of such knowledge.
 

Introduction


The utilisation of recording technology as a musical medium has presented challenges to traditional musical analytical methodologies. Numerous analytical schemas have been developed in order to address the inadequacies of score-based analysis. However existing methodologies rarely focus at the level of creation; i.e., on the processes involved in the production of the recording. Thus a key question emerges; what has been the impact of recording technology on the creative process itself, from the perspectives of performers, composers, producers and engineers? This paper is an account of practice-based research currently being conducted at James Cook University (QLD, Australia) as part of a doctoral study designed to address this question. The paper examines the impact of new technologies on music creation in two contrasting musical genres, electronic music and electronic dance music.

Music Creation


The creation of a recorded musical work is the result of a complex interplay of factors influencing the actions and decision-making processes of the individuals involved. These factors range from the particular techniques surrounding music making (e.g., music theory, technical performance issues, or the limits/potential of equipment) to broad social, economic and cultural contexts which impact in some way on the nature of such creations. Figure 1 illustrates the shaping factors, inputs, processes, and outcomes, involved in the creation of a musical work. The emphasis of particular shaping factors (top left of Figure 1) will vary according to a given work and is connected to musical style. While the shaping factors determine the process by which a musical work is created, it is the organization of particular inputs (top right of Figure 1) which provide the primary surface of a completed musical work. As with the shaping factors, the emphasis of particular inputs will vary according to a given work and is also connected to musical style. The various processes listed are not discrete categories and there is often fluidity between, for example, a bottom up or top down approach.
 


Figure 1. The Creation of a Musical Work (Adapted from Davis, 1995)
Figure 1 provides a useful starting point for the examination of the impact of recording technologies on music creation. If the various shaping factors, inputs, processes given in Figure 1 could be identified for a range of recorded works, it follows that an accurate picture of the impact of recording technologies on music creation would begin to emerge. While this type of examination is the task of music analysis, to what extent do extant music analysis practices provide insight into the range factors listed in Figure 1? More specifically, to what extent do extant analytical methods address the particular concerns of music production?

Issues in Music Analysis


In the context of the above questions, a survey of current literature reveals the following issues:
•    The lack of specific and/or explicit connection between musical analysis and musical creation;
•    The tendency of musical analysis practice to become an end in itself, unrelated to other musical pursuits (e.g., production, performance, composition, education);
•    The inadequacy of established analytical methods to deal with the processes and outputs of recording technologies; and,
•    Dispute as to the appropriate focus for analysis – musical work as an autonomous object and/or musical work within a broader context (e.g., psychological, sociological, cultural setting).
These issues are expanded in the following section before presentation of an analytical framework for the current research.

Musical analysis asks the question “How does it work?”(Bent, 1987, p.5), rather than ‘How was it made?’  In ascertaining the answer to the first question a composer acquires knowledge that may be applied to musical creations and in this way, musical analysis can input to the creation of a new musical work. According to Cook (1987) and Smalley (1997), this is the main link between extant analytic tools and composition. For Cook (1987) the practice of analysis develops an intuitive knowledge of music that cannot be subject to intellectual scrutiny. Smalley (1997) suggests, “once the composer becomes conscious of concepts and words to diagnose and describe, the compositional thinking can be influenced” (Smalley, 1997, p.107).

The notion that analysis influences composition is straightforward enough. However, the question as to whether analysis has the power to identify the compositional methodologies utilized in a particular work has only recently been addressed. From the small number of examples available in the extant research, two directions can be discerned. Firstly, research into the cognitive processes of composers (e.g., Brown, 1997; Giomi & Ligabue, 1998) and secondly, discussion of the influence of, and relationship between, cultural context and specific musical creations (e.g., Tagg, 2000; Goodheart, 2001). Taken together, these approaches provide a platform for links to be made between music analysis and creation.

The second issue raised above relates to the question ‘What is the purpose of musical analysis?’ To what extent does music analysis constitute a self-contained field of study or is it bound to other musical activities? Cook’s (1987) observes that:

Personally I dislike the tendency for analysis to turn into a quasi scientific discipline in its own right, essentially independent of the practical concerns of musical performance, composition or education.  Indeed I do not believe that analysis stands up to close examination when viewed in this way: it simply doesn’t have a sufficiently sound theoretical basis. (Cook, 1987, p.3)

In other words, analysis is meaningless unless considered in relation to the ways that the insights gained can be applied to other musical endeavours. In the context of this paper, ideally the purpose of analysis should provide insight into the compositional methodology(ies) utilised in the creation of recorded musical works. However, existing practices of musical analysis are not necessarily compatible with the processes and outputs of the various technologies involved in record production, the third issue identified above.

The majority of current analytical practices examine tonal and atonal music of the Western art music tradition (Bent, 1987; Cook, 1987) and focus on pitch elements in a written score. On the other hand, recorded works afford analysis of a range of elements beyond those usually rendered in traditional scores. For example, in many recorded works, timbre and spatialisation are crucial. Numerous genre specific analytical techniques have been developed in order to address these issues. In the fields of electronic and electroacoustic music - Smalley (1997), Giomi and Ligabue (1998), Couprie (2004); in rock - Moore (1993), Brown (1997), Hubbs (2000), Middleton (2000), Tagg (2000); in jazz – Rinzler (1988), Potter (1990), Goodheart (2001); and in electronic dance music - Hawkins (2003). The selected examples provide a range of tools that can be utilized in the analysis of recorded works. For example Moore (1993) uses the term sound box to refer to the virtual textual space of recordings with axes corresponding to register, perceived depth and stereo image. Although developed for rock styles, Moore’s (1993) sound box provides a useful model for the examination of these aspects of all recordings, regardless of style.

The lack of a musical score featuring standard pitch notation leads, in many recorded works, to the final issue raised above; the appropriate site for musical analysis. There are basically two approaches considered in the analytical methods surveyed in the current research. Firstly, the subject of analysis could be some form of autonomous artwork. This could be a written score (as in most traditional analytical practices), a graphic score or representation (e.g., Couprie, 2004; Smalley, 1997) or a recording of the work (e.g., Stephenson, 2002).  Secondly, the subject of analysis could be extended to include, for example the social and cultural context in which the work is received (e.g., Butterfield, 2002; Hawkins, 2003; Middleton, 2000).

The rationale for choosing an appropriate site for analysis derives from particular philosophical notions of what constitutes music. It is beyond the scope of this paper to delve too deeply into issues of music philosophy, although the following general comments can be made. Traditional analytical methods (such as those developed by Schenker, 1935 and Forte, 1973) are characterized by formalism and tend to examine some sort of autonomous artwork. On the other hand, analytical methods developed for pop/rock (for example, Hubbs, 2000; Middleton, 2000; Tagg, 2000) derive from a range of psychological, semiological, sociological and hermeneutic approaches and consider a range of factors involved in the production and reception of a work.

Development of Analytical Methodology for the Current Research


Existing analytical methodologies, focusing on electronic, electroacoustic, electronic dance music, jazz, and popular music provide useful analytical tools relevant to the current research and the analytical method outlined below includes where appropriate, reference to the key authors. Of particular interest is Middleton’s (2000) notion of a participant analyst who

… can double as ‘informant’ from within the culture-laying out the gestures through participation- and as ‘critical outsider’, cross-checking the information against schemas drawing on a wider body of musical data. (Middleton, 2000:108)

Middleton’s (2000) analytical model encourages analysis of musical works on a range of levels from meaning to affect, or to use Middleton’s terminology, “gesture, connotation, argument” (Middleton, 2000:120). However, Middleton (2000) does not make explicit links between music analysis and music creation which is the key focus of this research. The question thus is whether extending the role of Middleton’s participant analyst beyond that of the musicological domain to encompass a participant analyst/creator, might facilitate a more comprehensive investigation into the compositional/musical creation domain?

Scope of Research


Extending Middleton’s (2000) notion of the participant analyst to that of the participant analyst/creator, the range of compositional and improvisation practices examined in this research is derived from the nature of the researcher’s own artistic practice. A wide range of genres informs this researcher’s personal practice and hence the analysis of numerous, and stylistically varied, works is required. This, in combination with the time constraints for doctoral research, necessitates a somewhat broad-brush approach to particular analyses.

Methodology


The methodology developed for this research involves the following stages:
1.    The selection of key works in selected genres.
2.    The analysis of key works.
3.    The development of new creative works.
In order to maintain focus on analysis, the following discussion is limited to the first two stages only. Works selected for analysis must satisfy the following criteria: (1) High level of personal interest, (2) Incorporatation of new technologies, (3) Accessibility, (4) High profile in the literature, (5) Representative of a pivotal development in the genre. Initially an analysis of ten key works in six selected genres is to be undertaken. Genres studied to date include electronic, and electronic dance music. Further research will be undertaken in the fields of electroacoustic music, jazz, Western art music and rock.

The analytical methodology for the research has been developed through the selection and adaptation of various analytical tools encountered in the extant literature. Solomon’s (2002) Music Parametric Analysis, provided a useful template for encompassing a range of various musical parameters in a concise text based form. However, given its emphasis on tonal works, Solomon’s template requires expansion in order to address the issues raised above. Table 1 presents the analysis template developed for this research.

Table 1: Analysis template    



The first section of the template addresses the shaping factors in the creation of a musical work. According to numerous authors (e.g., Ferrara 1984, Brown 1997, Tagg 2000, Hubbs 2000), the consideration of a broad range of extramusical parameters is necessary for any comprehensive analysis and the current research incorporates this principle. The second section of the template addresses the inputs of a particular work and includes a range of traditional elements (e.g., pulse, metre, dynamics, pitch selection, texture, etc.,) in addition to parameters more suited to electronic and electroacoustic works such as sound objects, spatial elements, and programmatic association. The work of authors such as Ferrara (1984), Wishart (1996), Smalley (1997), Middleton (2000) and Fast (2000) provide useful models for the text-based descriptions of such elements. The experiential column represents the researcher’s own observations whereas the literature column includes descriptions that have been documented by others, including the creators of the works themselves. Additional analytical tools can be used to augment the analysis table where necessary. For example, graphic representations of sound objects, such as those developed by Couprie (2004) and Hirst (2005) provide a helpful supplement to the analysis template. However, given the parameters of different musical styles that require attention, it is not intended that such graphic representations be presented for every work.

The completed analyses enable comparisons to be made between works through presentation, in an element-specific manner, of aspects of the compositional methodologies employed in the creation of those works. In order to complete the link between analysis and creation, new works are developed by the researcher in the following manner: Having completed the analysis template for each key work, a summary template is completed in order to highlight, firstly, the particular resonances occurring at the shaping factors level, and secondly, the elements of particular interest to the researcher at the input level (see Table 1). Thus a storehouse of compositional methodologies is created from which new works can be developed.

Analysis of electronic and electronic dance music works


To date analysis of works in electronic and electronic dance music (EDM) genres have been completed. The following provides an overview of the results and presents issues that have emerged. Tables 2 and 3 list the works selected for analysis in the electronic and EDM genres.
 
 

Table 2: Key works selected in electronic genre

Table 3: Key works selected in electronic dance music genre

Two completed analyses are included in Appendix A, however, aspects of each are discussed separately in order to highlight key points and make comparisons between genres. In most of the works in both genres, roles such as musician, composer, engineer and producer are blurred. The individuals or collaborators involved move freely between roles, and utilize the studio as a creative tool. However, distinctions emerge when considering the creative processes in each genre. In many of the electronic works the processes are of a top down nature with the design of a formal structure of the work preceding the realization. In contrast, where discussed, the EDM works often resulted from a bottom up approach, where factors such as play are an integral part of the creative process. For example, Berman (1999) cites Tom Rowlands (from Chemical Brothers) account of their process: “We kind of play with sounds until tunes arrive” (Berman, 1999).

A comparison of the Literature column for each work illustrates another general distinction between the two genres. In the electronic works, composers provide detailed commentary of processes undertaken. This is to be expected as institutions, most likely requiring such as part of an acquittal procedure, commission most of the works selected in this genre. However, in EDM works, such commentary is rare. For EDM works, the majority of literature is of a journalistic nature and only in specialist industry magazines (such as Sound on Sound, or Audio Technology) do interviews with artists, engineers or producers address specific studio processes. Thus, where no indication of the particular equipment (e.g., for sound sources and effects) is given in the literature, a combination of practical experience and comparison with other works is necessary. This is one area where producers and engineers have much to offer the field of music analysis, either as researchers themselves or as a key source of information for ethnographic type research.

Further distinctions emerge when comparing the discourse surrounding each genre. For example, Reynolds (1999) discusses the experience of the EDM sub-genre drum ‘n’ bass in a club setting as follows:

At massive volume, knowledge is visceral, something your body understands as it’s seduced and ensnared by the paradoxes of the music: the way the breaks combine rollin’ flow and disruptive instability, thereby instilling a contradictory mix of nonchalance and vigilance; the way the bass is at once wombing and menacing…Inside the bass, you feel safe, and you feel dangerous. Like cruising in a car with a booming system, you’re sealed by surround sound while marauding through urban space (Reynolds 1999:349).

In the following, Harvey (1999) provides details of the programmatic association incorporated into his work in the electronic genre,  “Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco” (1980).

The bell counts time (each section has a differently pitched bell stroke at its beginning): it is itself a ‘dead’ sound for all its richness of sonority: the boy represents the living element. The bell surrounds the audience; they are, as it were, inside it: the boy ‘flies’ around like a free spirit (Harvey, Liner notes, 1999).

In the above, Reynolds’ account is highly personal and experiential whereas Harvey discusses both the audience and the sounds from a formalizing distance. Although Reynolds is writing as a listener and Harvey as a music maker, the above examples illustrate the distinction between intimate and distant perspectives that characterizes the literature in each genre, a difference perhaps symptomatic of a Western art music/popular music divide. This division has been discussed at length elsewhere (e.g. Middleton 1990, Covach 1999). Suffice to say that highlighting and juxtaposing such aspects serves to broaden an overall musicological frame.

The reliance on analogy to describe experiential aspects of the music exemplified in both quotations above, points to the need for an interdisciplinary approach to analysis. Whilst such language, either formal or personal, does acknowledge important aspects of music reception such as meaning and affect, a wider theoretical framework could provide, for example, a connection to physiological responses. In discussing the importance of somatic response to particular frequency areas, Middleton (2000) does provide a useful model in this regard. However, in order to test the validity of observations such as Middleton’s (2000) (e.g. connecting 16th note cymbal patterns with muscular vibration) a music researcher would most likely need to enlist the expertise of a medical researcher.

Reflections and Directions


Having completed analyses in two genres, some observations as to the success of the analytical method can be made. Firstly, as noted above, in many cases it has proved useful to supplement the text descriptions with other presentation tools such as conventional notation when dealing with traditional pitch/rhythm elements or graphic form diagrams. The latter can be presented in a manner that reflects the standard computer based sequencers with tracks listed on vertical axis and a timeline of events created along the horizontal axis. Recreating a work in this manner creates a visual representation similar to that used to create the work, thus reinforcing the analyst/creator model. Furthermore, such a figure could easily be augmented to include detailed descriptions of individual sound objects and perhaps even incorporate effects settings, panning, inserts, auxiliary sends, etc., in order to replicate the computer interface producing the work. For example, this researcher could envisage the recreation of a Pro Tools session as a useful presentation of analyses.

The analytical method presented here seeks to foreground elements of production neglected by traditional analytical methodologies. By seeking to describe elements such as timbre, spatialisation and programmatic association, the creative work of record production can be both recognized and analyzed. In the context of the current research, this knowledge is intended to examine the impact of recording technologies on music creation and to inform the creation of new works. The analytical method is intended to be applicable to all music and an assessment of its suitability for application in the fields of music education and music technology will be made on completion of the research. It is expected that the research will also have implications in fields such as sociology and science and technology in society, providing a musicological and music creator’s perspective.

One issue in relation to the analytical method under investigation, is its reliance on the presence of material in the literature to provide supplementary and sometimes contradictory information re the various parameters. In this way, only works that have a high profile in the literature are suitable and thus the method is reinforcing the canonization of a limited number of so called great works. A possible solution to this would be to interview the creators of works (after the experiential column of the analysis is completed) and for this to be included in the literature column, however, the scope and timeframe of this study precludes such an approach.

A second issue emerging from the analyses to date is the need to probe collaborative processes. The relationships that develop within a studio environment between musicians, engineers and producers warrant detailed study in order to establish a thorough picture of the nature of music creation. Such a study would require grounding in both psychological and sociological methodologies that are perhaps beyond the scope of one researcher and require an interdisciplinary approach from a research team.
 

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